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Franschhoek Literary Festival

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Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

Gus Ferguson on the Poetry at FLF 2008

Gus Ferguson The plethora of poetry events that happened at the 2008 Franschhoek Literary Festival lives on in the memories of those who had the pleasure of attending and participating. There are few more profound moments than when a new writer sees his or her own words in print for the first time. Observing the men in orange who had participated in Margie Orford‘s creative writing class, for instance, was a humbling experience.

Gus Ferguson, who organised the poetry happenings at the festival and is also the former editor of Poetry International Web, South Africa, wrote about all the poetry activities at the festival:

Poetry, as last year, was offered a high profile at the 2008 festival, kicking off with the launch of 15 (more…)

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Video: Chris Mann Sings from Lifelines

Hello, human beings / What’s an aardvark to you?

Chris Mann sang a variation of his “Aardvark” song at the Groot Drakenstein Prison at the start of the FLF. The performance was part of the launch of Fifteen Men, a book of prison writings compiled by Margie Orford.

Here’s Mann’s performance on video:

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Fifteen Men and the FLF Poetry Competition: a Video Montage

Margie Orford compiled Fifteen Men after working with inmates at the Groot Drakenstein Prison outside Franschhoek for nine months. The book features the men’s writing – and it was launched at the start of this year’s FLF.

Two of Margie’s students also took prizes in the FLF Poetry Competition: Ronaldo Plaatjies was the runner-up and Andile Sehoni won the prisons category, and they read their winning poems at the launch.

Here are six videos from the occasion:

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Canadian and Bangladeshi Win the 2008 Commonwealth Writers Prizes

A Delighted Lawrence Hill

Jenny Hobbs receives R100 000Rustum Kozain Receives the Olive Schreiner PrizeWinner of the Commonwealth First Book Prize, Tahmima Anam

The Franschhoek Literary Festival closed with a fireworks-like grand finale this evening, one major announcement after another eliciting oohs and aahs, and the remarks of emcee Solly Philander providing staccato bursts of comic relief that threatened to steal the show altogether.

Said show was put on by the Department of Arts and Culture. Rivers of bunting and red carpet, a capacious big-top tent, a seven-person pop/mbaqanga band, row upon stately row of lawn seats in tight black cloth covers, and writers and dignitaries galore sitting in them – the Franschhoek Hoërskool theatre was transformed into something approximating a rustic state opera.

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The State of the Review

Zukiswa WannerGabeba BaderoonEtienne van HeerdenMike van Graan

“Reviewers are often considered parasites, the pigs at the pastry cart, or the tick birds of the literary rhinoceros,” said Jenny Hobbs, an organiser of the Franschhoek Literary Panel, chairing a panel that included Gabeba Baderoon, Etienne van Heerden, Mike van Graan and Zukiswa Wanner. This illustrious gathering explored the state of the literary review in South Africa in a lively debate.

Hobbs reflected that books are often labelled by the majority of folks as “highbrow, popular, or trash, before they’ve been picked up, and going to plays is a thing for lanies.” She quoted Wally Serote, who said that something is wrong in our country when so few people read. “And yet,” said Hobbs, “too often, critics either neglect books, or seem to want to put people off reading,” she said.

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FLF Kicks Off at Groot Drakenstein Prison with “Launch” of Fifteen Men

Prison PoetsIt was the launch that almost wasn’t – call it a book function instead of the official thing. Margie Orford and the men she has worked with for the past nine months – fifteen of them, all inmates of the Groot Drakenstein Correctional Facility (the former, and formerly famous, Victor Verster Maximum Security Prison outside Franschhoek) – gathered without the requisite dignitarites for the first celebration around Fifteen Men, the book edited by Orford that contains the writings of the people in orange. The book is published by Jonathan Ball.

The national and regional commissioners of prisons couldn’t be there – hence the hasty withdrawal of the function’s official status. But if it looks like a launch, and if there are speeches and readings like at a launch, then that’s good enough for me!

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Free Poetry and Commonwealth Writers Prize Events at the FLF

FLF Poetry Club FLF Commonwealth Writers Prize Events

While many of the literary offerings on the FLF Programme cost R60 to enter (R20 for students; all proceeds to the FLF Library Fund, dedicated to creating first-rate libraries in local schools; book now), there are quite a number of free events, too – a terrific lineup of poetry and Commonwealth Writers Prize readings, which you can view on the panels above.

Alternatively, download our Poetry Club and Commonwealth Writers Prize programme:

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FLF Bookings Open Today

FLF header
Bookings for the 2008 Franschhoek Literary Festival are now open.

Tickets for all events, including classical concerts and restaurant events, are available from the Franschhoek Wine Valley & Tourist Association. Contact email is and the tel number is +27 (0)21 876 3603. Visit our bookings page for more.

Tickets cost R60, R20 for students, unless otherwise indicated. These prices include a substantial donation to the FLF Library Fund. For more information on the events, see our 2008 Programme.

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FLF Snapshot: Lebo Mashile Live!

Lebo Mashile and Michelle MatthewsLebo Mashile is “probably the only poet in South Africa to ever grace the cover of a national women’s magazine,” said Oshun Books publisher Michelle Matthews when introducing arguably the most famous South African “personality” at the FLF, during Saturday’s Lebo Mashile Live! session in the NG Kerk Hall.

The magazine was True Love, and Lebo’s appearance on its cover was a truly befitting mark of her rise to the top of her chosen profession – which is – erm – well, it’s rather difficult to explain. Can “phenomenon” be a career?


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Video: Lebo Mashile Peforms “Me”

Lebo MashileLebo Mashile charmed an audience of all shapes and sizes at Franschhoek’s NG Kerk Hall during the “Lebo Mashile Live!” session hosted by her publisher, Michelle Matthews, of Oshun Books.

Here’s a clip from the session, in which Lebo performs what she describes as her “favourite poem by me right now”. Perhaps not coincidentally, it’s called “Me”.

(See below – the image here is a still.)


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